Say Cheese

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Moby-Dick

We wanted to shoot a scene that gives an impression similar to the act of cleaning a whale. In Moby-Dick Melville describes in detail the process of squeezing all its resources out of the dead whale.

Squeeze! squeeze! squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me…

So, what did we came up with? Making cheese, of course. I don’t know what we were thinking, and why we assumed that making cheese will give the same feeling as squeezing a whale. Apparently, no one of us had ever cleaned a whale or made cheese before.

We booked a cheese making class at the biospherepark.house in Großes Walsertal, Vorarlberg. An experienced cheese maker named Wilfried was assigned to teach us the art of making cheese.

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The disappointment arrived early. Wilfried did most of the work while we sat around and listened to his stories. Very fast we discovered that making cheese has nothing to do with squeezing and everything with waiting. If you do a modern adaptation of Waiting for Godot I recommend making cheese as your main action.

But being a performance group with a need to do something, we started to sing while stirring the big pot of warm milk that will eventually one day turn into cheese. The act of stirring was the closest we came to looking like sailors at sea. Still it looked nothing like squeezing a whale.

Wilfried, and I assume the rest of the Großes Walsertal, is passionate about cheese. He eats cheese every day and knows a lot about the subject. In performance terms you could call the evening: Cheese Stories, a solo with Wilfried. It was Theatre with Dinner, because that is what we had in the end after doing almost nothing. Yes, we had a wonderful tasting of cheese and cold cuts from the region.

Did the sailors on a whaling boat had whale for dinner after a hard day’s work? Did they have wine with it? – We had a great dinner and in a couple of months we will get the cheese, we hardly helped to make, shipped directly to our home in Vienna.

I’m sure that in the editing, with the right music, we can make it look like we work hard at making cheese. And with a voiceover reading the Melville text we can even give the impression of melting into it. In retrospect, maybe we should have booked a bread-making class. Maybe rolling dough is much closer to squeezing a whale. (y)

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